PHILADELPHIA - A fog machine pumped smoke into the Phillies' clubhouse Thursday evening at Citizens Bank Park. Lasers danced across the ceiling and walls as Meek Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares" blared over the sound system.This is how the Phillies plan to celebrate victories this season.They enjoyed a 5-0 victory over
PHILADELPHIA - A fog machine pumped smoke into the Phillies' clubhouse Thursday evening at Citizens Bank Park. Lasers danced across the ceiling and walls as Meek Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares" blared over the sound system.
This is how the Phillies plan to celebrate victories this season.
They enjoyed a 5-0 victory over the Marlins in their home opener, which temporarily shifted the focus from Phillies manager Gabe Kapler's rough first week on the job. Kapler heard boos during pregame introductions and again when he removed starter Nick Pivetta from the game with two outs in the sixth inning. But if Philadelphia continues to win, if Kapler's in-game decisions continue to work like they worked Thursday, Kapler believes the focus will remain where he wants it.
"They cheer for the players," Kapler said. "That's what matters the most. They cheer really loud for the players. If that's the ultimate outcome -- if every day they're cheering the players, I'll take that, 100 percent. I'm glad to wear that."
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Performances like the ones Pivetta and Maikel Franco enjoyed Thursday will help. Pivetta threw 97 pitches over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He allowed just four hits and struck out nine. He got 15 swings-and-misses, one short of tying his career high, and 23 called strikes, setting a career high.
"Awesome feeling coming out today, guys came out with fire, played really, really well," Pivetta said.
Franco finished a double shy of the cycle, including a two-run homer, and had four RBIs.
"I saw a lot of battle [with Franco]," Kapler said. "He got down in a couple of counts and was able to battle back and get two monster hits for us. The line-drive trajectory on his ball has been really consistent from Spring Training to this point. He hasn't always had much to show for it, but I can tell you the feeling of being in the batter's box and hitting balls on the nose gives you confidence in your next at-bats and eventually that confidence leads to results. It leads to balls falling on outfield grass and it leads to balls going into the gaps and into the seats like it did for Frankie today."
Kapler pulled Pivetta with a runner on first with two outs in the sixth. He wanted left-hander Adam Morgan to face Justin Bour. Fans booed, not necessarily because they disagreed with the decision there, although certainly some did, but because they wanted to express their frustrations following a 1-4 start on the road.
Morgan struck out Bour on three pitches to end the inning.
"Hopefully, over the course of time, they learn to trust that I am in this with them," Kapler said. "Hopefully, over the course of time, they learn to trust that my process is strong. Hopefully, over the course of time, they understand we have great players and that's where the attention should be focused."
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The players expect to win a lot. It appears veteran Tommy Hunter purchased the laser machine, although he denied it. But he explained why the fog, lasers and music are a good thing.
"Do something fun when you win, so you win more," Hunter said. "You want to come up in a big situation so you get called out in front of the guys. It creates at atmosphere of always wanting to be the guy to step up in that situation."
His younger teammates agreed.
"We're trying to become a family in here," J.P. Crawford said. "It's not just a business; it's a game. We're here more than half the year. We might as well make it a fun year. Bump some music, fog machine, it's great. It makes the vibe in here outstanding."
"It's our culture," Nick Williams said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Work it: The Phillies made Marlins starter Caleb Smith throw 34 pitches in the first inning on their way to taking a 2-0 lead. Cesar Hernandez worked a six-pitch walk to start the inning. Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera each worked five-pitch walks with two outs to load the bases. Franco followed Herrera, singling to left field on a 2-2 pitch to score Hernandez and Hoskins. More >
Herrera plays, makes Smith pay: Herrera has been the Phillies' best player the past three seasons, but he has started only four of the team's first six games as Kapler tries to find everybody playing time. After Scott Kingery walked and stole second base in the third -- the first stolen base of his MLB career -- Herrera finished an eight-pitch at-bat against Smith with a single to center field to score Kingery to make it 3-0.
"[Marlins reliever Jarlin Garcia] did an amazing job. He picked me up. I'm sorry that happened. I put him in that situation. He did his job. He went out there and he battled, and gave us a chance." -- Smith, on Garcia's four innings of relief
"When I come in with all those boos, I don't know what was going on. I think it's extremely early. I think things will work themselves out. I think everything is going to be fine." -- Morgan, on replacing Pivetta in the sixth inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Game-time temperature was 46 degrees, making Thursday the coldest game the Marlins have played at Philadelphia since April 17, 2003, when it was 43 degrees.
The Phillies walked nine times. It is the first time they walked nine-plus times in a nine-inning game since July 23, 2012, when they walked nine times against the Brewers. They last walked 10 times in a nine-inning game on Sept. 14, 2010, in Miami.
Phillies: Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez pitches Saturday night's game against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Velasquez lasted just 2 2/3 innings last week in his season debut in Atlanta. Clearly, he needs to start pitching much deeper into games or his spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy.
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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.